Thursday, September 27, 2012

Large = small, but small = large?

So, our most recent photography assignement was on aperture. You know that one that really confuses everyone. What we learned the night of our lesson is that photography light is measured in steps. There is actually some geometry involved in the calculation of the f-stops, but I certainly don't want to lose anybody with the explanation!

Aperture is a really cool setting on your camera once you realize what you can do with it. Aperture has to do with how wide the lens is open. With a wide open lens (or large aperture which is a small f-stop number), you can decrease the depth of field which gives you that blurred background which is amazing with portrait photography. With a small lens opening (or small aperture which is a large f-stop number), you can increase the depth of field which works well for landscape photography.

Here are a couple of examples from my 'homework':

Picture #1: this picture was shot at a shutter speed of 1/640s, ISO at 1600 and aperture at f/18. I used a high ISO number because I was under a roof and didn't want the flash to come on. This allowed enough light to come into the lens even though the aperture was small. Notice how clear the background is in this picture.

Picture #2: this picture was shot at a shutter speed of 1/500s, ISO at 100, but with an aperture of f/4.5. Notice the difference between this picture and picture #1?

Picture #3: this picture was shot at a shutter speed of 1/250s, ISO at 100, and aperture of f/4.5. This picture is very similar in its effect as picture #2. Notice the settings of picture #2 and this one.
Picture #4: this picture was shot at a shutter speed of 1/8s, ISO at 100, and aperture of f/22. Notice the difference?

The great thing about digital is the ability to play around with settings, take as many pictures as you want, and not having to pay for film processing! Back when I was using film, I would never have taken as many pictures as I do today.

Are you ready to move your camera off of auto and give manual a try? Remember that large aperture = small number = decreases depth of field. Then on the other end, small aperture = large number = increases depth of field.

Let me know if you post pictures on your blog giving this a try! Happy picture taking!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

King Tut

As Kelsey and I were walking up to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum today, I kept thinking about Steve Martin singing his King Tut song. And of course there is also, Walk Like an Egyptian by the Bangles. Anyway... :o)

We are using Mystery of History I for our history curriculum this year. I went through this book years ago with both kids. Kelsey was pretty little then, so it was time to do a second run through with her. A couple of weeks ago, we completed Lesson 11 and the recommended activity is to visit an Egyptian display in your area. So today was field trip day to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. Apparently, it houses the largest display of Egyptian artifacts in the western part of North America. Pretty impressive!

Here are some pictures of our day:

 Outside the museum, we found this really strange looking statue
 Replica of King Tut's coffin
 On our way down into the tomb...
 ...inside the tomb, kind of felt like we were on the set of Night at the Museum!
 Walking like an Egyptian!
A really old cartouche, and the card actually still has B.C. on it, instead of B.C.E.
 Replica of the Rosetta Stone
 Replica of the stone with Hammurabi's code
 Hanging Gardens of Babylon
I am so glad we took the time to go out to this museum today! We were able to see a lot of things that we will be covering in upcoming lessons. If you are nearby the San Jose, California area, you should really make the time to visit this museum! In fact, I will add it to my Great Field Trips page. Have you had a chance to visit my Great Field Trips page? I am going to be adding to this list, so keep checking back to see where we have gone for some field trips over the years.
Do you have some favorite field trip destinations?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How do you see your Compassion journey ending?

Join the Compassion Blogger Network

We are at the end of Compassion's Blog Month, on a journey to do what we can to find sponsors for 3,108 children. As of this morning, we are 715 children away from meeting this goal!

Well, the folks at Compassion Bloggers have pulled out a very creative way to end our month. Our new assignment is to blog as if you are a sponsored child. You are a child living in extreme poverty. What do you have to say?

The top 3 blog posts (as determined by a panel of judges at Compassion) will win money for their Compassion child's family! But the overall goal of all these blog posts this month is to have more children sponsored with Compassion. If you are not currently sponsoring a child with Compassion, please prayerfully consider it as you read through my post.

In this post, I have decided to write 2 letters, and here is letter #1:

"Dear Mr. and Mrs. Smith,

I want to thank you for the many years that you have provided my sponsorship with Compassion. Because of your investment in my life, I know who Jesus is because I was able to attend the project center each and every week and hear many lessons about this man who saved me from my sins.

Each week, I would share the stories I was learning with my family, and they also know who Jesus is. For this, I will always be grateful for your sponsorship.

As I prepare to leave the Compassion program, I am excited about the opportunities I will have in my community. Opportunities to earn money for my family, share about Jesus with others, and help at the Compassion project.

There is just one thing I wish had been different. Many of my friends received so many letters of encouragement from their sponsors. Even though I never received any letters from you, I am still so thankful for the blessing you have been in my life. I just would have loved to been able to learn more about you and your family.

Thank you for being a part of my life over these past 15 years. I will continue to pray for you every day.


Letter #2:

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Smith,

I am not sure whether to be extremely happy or extremely sad writing this letter to you! For the past 15 years, your family has been such a blessing and encouragment to me. You and your family consistently sent letters and pictures to me, which I have kept every one and will treasure through out my life.

Through my struggles, your prayers and letters pointed me to continually trust in Jesus. I am not sure where I would be today without your constant love and support. I pray that every Compassion child could have such dedicated sponsors like you have been for me.

Now that my time at the Compassion center is done, I am looking forward to being a part of the Leadership Development Program. I never would have even attempted to apply for this program if it hadn't been for your family continually sending me such encouraging words. I thank you for making me feel like I really am a part of your family.

I know that we were never able to meet in person during my time at the Compassion center, but I look forward to the day when we are all in heaven together, rejoicing at the feet of Jesus, because you took the time to invest in the life of one child, living thousands of miles away from you. Thank you just doesn't describe how much your family means to me.

I love you all so much,

Both of these letters are creations from my thoughts about what a child might write at the end of their journey with Compassion. Which letter would you prefer to receive?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Learner, Belief, Input, Achiever, Intellection

A few weeks ago, Shaun Groves had a blog post about Strength Finder 2.0. The title of his post made me want to read more: "One Thing That Made Me a Better Husband, Parent & Worker". Being the book person that I am, I went ahead and ordered the book. Because I am usually working through quite a stack of books at any one time, the book has been in my pile until just a couple of days ago.

At first glance, the book is a little intimidating. After all, it is 174 pages, which depending on the content can take a few days to get through. But in reality, you only read about 30 pages, then you open a little packet in the back of the book which contains a code for you to be able to take the Strength Finder 'test' online.

Once you have taken the test and received your results, the web site generates a report for you with your Top 5 Strengths of which mine were: Learner, Belief, Input, Achiever, and Intellection. Part 2 of the book is the application part for your list of strengths. In all, there are 34 strength themes. Each strength theme contains a description, as well as, Ideas for Action and Working With Others that have that theme as a strength.

Now, I need to spend a little more time reading through each of the themes, but what are my initial thoughts on my results?
Learner: Oh yeah, I love to learn things!
Belief: The Bible is my guide!
Input: I love to read about new topics!
Achiever: I really do like to accomplish tasks!
Intellection: I do enjoy my time alone to think through things!

So what about you? Have you taken the Strength Finder test? What were your results?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Time for InstaFriday...a little late

Here is a recap of my week of Instagram photos...
Last Friday, we held our monthly Compassion sponsor letter writing night. Found this idea on Pinterest! I also found some cute fall stickers at Michaels to send along with this month's letters.
 Saturday was our annual beach trip with our church family. It was a beautiful sunny day, and as tradition would have it, we ended our day together singing worship songs before heading home.
 Sunday was an exciting day at church! We started the service in our old building, squished together and just a little warm like usual. Just before it was time for our pastor to deliver the message, he invited us all over to our new building! Many faithful workers have set aside many hours to complete our new church building!
 Last time we went through Mystery of History, I was teaching both kids. This time, Kelsey gets to do all the projects on her own. We just finished reading about the early Egyptians. Project time was to construct a pyramid. She did a great job working on her own!
 The mornings have started to get just a little bit chilly here, decided to have my first cup of hot tea in quite a while! Harney & Sons Vanilla Comoro is so yummy with a little bit of raw sugar... :o)
 Time to start learning how to use my Photoshop Elements 6.0 program. So glad the library has these books so I can decide which one to look for used.
 Found a couple of cloth book kits on our last trip to Wal-Mart. I love making these types of gifts!
 Compassion Event Time! We signed up to be volunteers at the first stop on The City Harmonic's new tour as a headline band. Matthew and I had heard these guys a couple of times already this year. We knew this would be a great event to work at because Bob Lenz would be speaking! And it was a great event! 28 Compassion kids were sponsored that night! Yay!
Since I didn't get my InstaFriday post up yesterday, there is one more picture to share with you. Today is the first day of autumn and I finally took down all of my summer decorations... :o(
Want to join in the IntsaFriday fun? Be sure to visit the link at Life Rearranged's blog!

life rearranged

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pin It!

We are half way through the month of September and about half way to the goal of having 3,108 children sponsored! Yay!

To keep the momentum going, the wizards behind Compassion Bloggers have created a Pinterest contest. Each of us have been encouraged to create a board on Pinterest called 'My Sponsored Child'. The exciting thing about this contest is the winners will be selected randomly and our sponsored kids and their families will be the recipients of the prize money! Isn't that so cool! Love it!

I have already 'pinned' a few things to this newly created board and hope to pin more items throughout the week. There are so many creative paper crafts to be found on Pinterest to send to our sponsored kids. Pinterest is my go-to source for our monthly sponsor letter writing night projects!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Time for InstaFriday!

It's InstaFriday time! Here is a recap of my Instagram photos from the last week:
Saturday was our anniversary! We spent the day in the city at the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival. We were able to get 15 samples of different chocolate items: brownies, tarts, ice cream sundaes, malts, cookies, and of course, Ghirardelli chocolate. It ended up being a little different than we expected, but it was a beautiful, clear day in the city... :o)

For dinner that night, we were able to use our Buca di Beppo gift card. We had never been there before. This bowl of spaghetti and meatballs was meant for 2 people, but it could have fed at least four people! So glad we didn't order appetizers or salad. Maybe when we have the kids with us.

Since Kev bought our tickets for the chocolate festival early, we received two $10 gift cards to Macy's. On our way home from the city, we stopped at a Macy's and found these cute fall mugs. We both thought they would be great for tea and a reminder of our day together.

I have been enjoying the Hello Mornings Challenge. This has been a great way for me to get my mornings started the right way. Our fall Hello Mornings Bible study is in 1 Peter. I love digging into God's Word this way.

Tuesday found me at jury duty. It was really strange being at jury duty on 9/11 and the court house is on 11th Street. I spent the morning reading and looking through some magazines. We were let out early for lunch, so I ran a couple of errands. Once we returned from lunch, most of us were called into court rooms for jury selection. I ended up in a court room for a month long murder case. Because I am the primary caregiver for my daughter, I was excused from service. Maybe I will be able to serve next time.

Months ago, I found an idea on Pinterest to send to our Compassion kids. We traced our hands, cut them out, and wrote a Bible verse on them. We mailed along extra paper and a note asking the kids to do the same, then mail them back to us. This week, we received our first hand back!

My camera has been off being serviced, so I thought I would make a new camera strap while it was away. This strap has a pocket to hold the lens cap. So handy!

Still making progress on the baby blanket...126 rows done, 95 to go. I usually will sit down and knit two rows at a time. There are quite a few mistakes, but I don't think anyone will really be able to tell. Can you see the hearts?

Yesterday, there was a group of us that headed over to the National Heirloom Expo. My friend and I went last year and really enjoyed ourselves. This year, there were five of us that spent the day learning about how to grow better tomatoes, basil, and garlic and what to do with some of the herbs your might be growing. It was a fun day out with friends!

Have you been Instagramming this week? Join us for InstaFriday!

life rearranged

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Happy Mail!! :o) ...and sad mail :o(

On Monday, there was a Compassion cream colored envelope in mail addressed to me!

The envelope held not just one, but two letters from Lina!
Letter number one was dated May 25:
"Dear Yvonne,
I salute you with a great hug, hoping you and your family are doing well, it's very pleasurable to receive news from you. Thank you for the sponsorship you give me and all of your details. I really liked everything you sent me, the cards I am going to used them to make art as well as the colors, pens and the sharpener. I shared the candies with my brother and my parents, the balls are very pretty and really like them, the tweezers I will use them tomorrow to go visit a great friend who lives in another neighborhood. Do you like to go and visit your friends? What do you do with them? I ask you to pray for my family I will be praying for your family and for you. I want you to read Psalms 139:13. Farewell with love, Lina."
In the spring, I was able to send a package of items with someone who was traveling to Colombia. These were the gift items that Lina thanked me for in the letter. One thing I noticed in this letter that I hadn't seen before is that the questions were typed in bold. I know on the Compassion web site, they suggest that we number questions to the kids or highlight them in our letters. Something to remember as we prepare to write letters again this Friday!
Letter number two was dated July 12:
"Dear Yvonne,
Loved Yvonne I am glad to be able to write to you, thank you for being so special, I am fascinated because I have your sponsorship, I love the letters, the stickers, the cards and the bible verses, those were nice gifts. My peers would like to have a sponsor like you, thank you for showing me your love. I want you to know that bonus you send was a great blessing to me, I got a skirt and a yellow blouse because it is my favorite color. Do you like yellow? In one of your letters you asked me about my country, well it is the door of south America, it's big, and it has a great variety of flora and fauna and weather, according to the regions, its people is valuable, there is people like you: Loving, generous, kind and with a nice heart, here we only have two seasons, winter and summer, my favorite is winter because it's cooler and I can play under the rain. Please send a warm salute to your family from me and tell them I appreciate theirs prayers, I will be praying so God's grace will leak upon your lives. I think it's great you enjoy learning about Jesus, Jesus is my favorite hero. This year I have liked the most my natural science class and I can say it's my favorite. Who is your best friend? Mine is called Karen and we have been friends for 10 years, I really love her and I like to count with her. I send you a Bible verse I really like about friendship and it's in Proverbs 17:17. As for the Christmas letter I tell you we had a great time, we spend it in family, I got a lot of giftss and of course I was praying so God would bless you. I ask you to pray for my family, especially for my dad so he does well in his job. Farewell, remember that I love you until heaven. Lina"
In the two years that we have been sponsoring Lina, this is by far the longest letter we have received from her!
With these letters, we received something extra! Months ago, I had found a project on Pinterest where you trace your hand onto cardstock, cut it out, and write a Bible verse on the 'hand'. We did this for each one of the kids and sent additional paper along, with a note asking them to do the same, then mail it back to us. Imagine how happy I was when I saw this with the letters:
I will treasure this!
Then today, I received a letter from Compassion in a plain white envelope from the Sponsor and Donar Relations Director. This letter said:
"We appreciate your involvement in the lives of God's precious children by serving as a correspondent. We have just learned that the supporter for Xiomara in Peru has ended their sponsorship; therefore, you will not be able to continue correspondence with this child."
Over the last year, I have been corresponding with Xiomara and have just loved this young lady. I have known this could happen, and it is one of the reasons why we have not taken on any more sponsored kids. However, because we are working on paying off some debt, this may not be the best time to add one more sponsored child to our family.
I posted about this on Facebook and said we would be praying about this. Then I received a message from a friend that made me cry! She has been considering sponsoring and was wondering if they can take on Xiomara! We will both be praying about this over the next few days. I will be seeing her next week and will show her the letters I have received so far. If you are reading this post, could you be praying for this situation also?
So even though I this post the title of  'Happy Mail!!! :o) ...and sad mail :o(', there is a chance that even the sad part of this post could end up being a blessing! I know that God will provide and I need to remember that and trust Him to watch over Xiomara and her family.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Compassion Blogger Assignment: Dear God

In case you didn't know, September is Blog Month at Compassion. There is a goal to have at least 3,108 children sponsored this month through the internet. As of the e-mail we received this morning, 837 children have been sponsored because of Compassion Bloggers! Yay! Isn't this exciting!

Last week, we were encouraged to share about Blog Month on our blogs and have our readers prayerfully consider sponsoring a child. This week's assignment is just a little different. Here goes:

Dear God,

Little did I know how becoming a sponsor with Compassion would change my life, but You knew. To me, these children are not just a picture in a packet. They are living, breathing human beings who deserve a chance to make a difference in their little corner of the world. Thank You for moving in our hearts to add to our family in this way!

Never before have we spent so much time praying for people we have never even met. However, we feel like these children are a part of our family, and they are. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we love each one of them. We know You love them too, and You planned for them to be a part of our lives.

If it is Your will, Lord, I pray that You continue to watch over these children, protect them, give them a hunger to know more about You, and help them to make a difference in their families and in their communities. Thank You for always being there to hear our prayers for these children.

In Jesus' name...Amen!

How about you? Have you ever written a letter to God about your Compassion kids?

Friday, September 7, 2012


I visited the blog of one of my Instagram friends and found out about this InstaFriday thing where you share on your blog your Instagram pictures from the week. This looked like fun so here is my first InstaFriday post!

 Matthew, Kev, and I spent most of the day on Saturday up at Joshua Fest volunteering at the Compassion table.
 We ran into Nate and Jillian while we were there. They sponsored a little girl!
 On Sunday, Matthew and I headed back up to help that night. Joe Rojas from Seventh Day Slumber gave a powerful Compassion talk! He even made me cry!
 84 rows done...136 to go on my knitting project!
 Kelsey making a sugar cube ziggurat for her Mystery of History activity. This will be our second time going through Volume I.
 Homeschool lesson on making homemade laundry soap. We compared prices and realized we are saving tons of money by making our own. Kelsey was really amazed!
 Finished the pillow for our backyard beach retreat chairs.
 Took this picture of the clouds on the way to my photography class last night.

And here is my tomato jungle. I need to plan my garden a little better next year. I can't hardly get to the tomatoes along the back of the fence!
Well, did you enjoy the recap of my week? If so, be sure to visit InstFriday at Life Rearranged to see more InstaFriday posts!

life rearranged